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Subject: Robert Florence on BGG rss

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http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/18/cardboard-childre...

The first part of the article is pretty interesting, considering the place and tone chosen. I cannot say I totally disagree with him (especially on the sexism part), and I'd like us to have a civil discussion on that subject.
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I just read over that and my honest opinion is that BGG is what you make of it. I use it to track mine (and friends) collection(s), get news for upcoming games and checkout review and rules thread on games I am interested in.

In the same way comments and forums on a lot of PC gaming sites make me loose faith in humanity their are parts of BGG which show the darker/more immature side of our community. However their is a lot of good done by this community (as noted in a few sentences). Its just a shame the dark side exists (as it does in every community)
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Tomello Visello
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"Because that ranking they do over there? That Top 100? That thing is ugly. "

{yawn}

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a few of us already knew.

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Well, I read it. Frankly, the article certainly doesn't break any new ground. Wargamers and AT players on BGG (my two favorite genres of boardgames, BTW) have said those things for years. Despite that, I don't see any reason to trash BGG or, as the author put it, "turn my back on it". I'd also say that the Euro-bent to BGG has been waning over the last several years, and that games with luck and dice have been becoming more popular on the site in that time. All in all, I don't think that article contributes much to the general dialog about gaming, but then again, it was only meant as a rant. As they say, move along, nothing to see here.
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Swan Bones
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As for the ranking system, it doesn't bother me. One must take such things with a pinch of salt and go with the recommendations of the reviewers you trust.

On the misogyny angle however I have to say I completely agree. It would be great not to have a string of tediously patronising complements every time a female reviewer manages to work out how to use a video camera. This is the landscape of ignorance that one will encounter on social media, but it would be good to take people to task more often over it.

The point where this really got to me was in the Board to Death TV review of City of Horror. Michaela (refered to by one commenter as the "beautiful lady game reviewer. I find her so attractive.") mentions that she is unhappy with her perception of sexist representations in the game before apologising for "becoming a feminist". If a female game reviewer feels the need to apologise for being mistaken for believing in the idea that men and women might be perceived as equal then there is a huge amount of work to do here.
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The other part is a review of Banditos, with the complaint that BGG rates it 5.7 when it's badly flawed. For somebody who claims to have used BGG a lot, he's failed to realise that any game rated under 6.0 has problems. He's failed to notice that it only has 34 ratings, and obviously the top raters are fans. He's even failed to notice that the designer has rated it 9 without commenting that he's the designer (bad form). He's totally failed to read the Comment from MMM (who rated it 2) "The theme is all this game has going for it.".

If he'd used BGG in any sensible way, he wouldn't have bought the game in the first place, or had he done so, he couldn't have been disappointed, since all the warnings were there.


My mistake. Apparently, he thinks it's ace. Well then, go rate it 10 and it will go up.
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Simon DeSmet
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i agree with him
 
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
The other part is a review of Banditos, with the complaint that BGG rates it 5.7 when it's badly flawed. For somebody who claims to have used BGG a lot, he's failed to realise that any game rated under 6.0 has problems. He's failed to notice that it only has 34 ratings, and obviously the top raters are fans. He's even failed to notice that the designer has rated it 9 without commenting that he's the designer (bad form). He's totally failed to read the Comment from MMM (who rated it 2) "The theme is all this game has going for it.".

If he'd used BGG in any sensible way, he wouldn't have bought the game in the first place, or had he done so, he couldn't have been disappointed, since all the warnings were there.


Well, his point was the he thought the game was more fun that the 5.7 rating would imply. I believe he used this as an example to highlight his problems with the BGG rating system and how its slanted towards Eurogames. From reading Florence's other reviews on RPS I already know he favours game with heavy theme and the ability to 'tell stories'.
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Russ Williams
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
The other part is a review of Banditos, with the complaint that BGG rates it 5.7 when it's badly flawed. For somebody who claims to have used BGG a lot, he's failed to realise that any game rated under 6.0 has problems. He's failed to notice that it only has 34 ratings, and obviously the top raters are fans.

Hmm? It seems to me you've completely misunderstood his take on that game (or else I have). I think he likes it rather than being disappointed by it, and he thinks the rating of 5.7 is too low, not too high.
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Stuart Finlay
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Summary
-Vague ramblings about how flaws are good and BGG is responsible for creating a world where only dry euros get made and played dooming board gaming forever.

-Ancient arguments about ratings being pointless even though they clearly serve a useful purpose.

-Arguments that BGG ratings are even worse because everyone who doesn't like buckets of luck in their games is a euro-snob and their opinions shouldn't count.

-Sour grapes about a favorite game being down-voted because the publisher is a bad actor. What do you expect on a crowd-sourced site? Editorial standards enforced by perma-bans.

-Valid criticisms of sexism on this site.

-Argument that you should go elsewhere for your game information without providing any suggestions.

-Banditos - "There are a lot of fun cards in the game. It’s just a fun game."

shake
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Rik Van Horn
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As far as ratings go, they really mean nothing. If they did, no one would buy Justin Bieber's music or go to see Die Hard 5.

We like what we like and while some may be discouraged by ratings, which amount to reviews, they often don't stop us from exposing ourselves to them.

OK, smack me now Bieber and Die Hard fans.
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TOKYO Heartbroken
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russ wrote:
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
The other part is a review of Banditos, with the complaint that BGG rates it 5.7 when it's badly flawed. For somebody who claims to have used BGG a lot, he's failed to realise that any game rated under 6.0 has problems. He's failed to notice that it only has 34 ratings, and obviously the top raters are fans.

Hmm? It seems to me you've completely misunderstood his take on that game (or else I have). I think he likes it rather than being disappointed by it, and he thinks the rating of 5.7 is too low, not too high.


tengblad wrote:
Well, his point was the he thought the game was more fun that the 5.7 rating would imply. I believe he used this as an example to highlight his problems with the BGG rating system and how its slanted towards Eurogames. From reading Florence's other reviews on RPS I already know he favours game with heavy theme and the ability to 'tell stories'.


Yes, my mistake. I was skimming. If he thinks it's great, he should rate it high and the average will go up.
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Liam Liam
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Interesting...

Well everyone is welcome to their opinion... Here's mine youse -


1.
Rab is a lover of everything GW, he likes dice and theme first. Due to the popularity of eurogames in this community, Rab's preferred games struggle to get up the ranking (Or at least be significant in the top 20). I think GW struggles in particular due to their frankly shoddy core products and bulling treatment of their fans (Rab condemns the anti GW backlash more than he does the cause - Whit?). Ultimately BGG is a neutral site that allows the users to choose the rankings - so his problem is with the users not the site. Personally I don't like the top 10 games. Summoner Wars or bust

2.
Sexism is a fair point and one that I would totally agree with. I think there is a significant minority of users who often say and support sexist things, that objectify women or marginalise them. I'd also say there is a problem with gender representation and sexuality on the geek.

Users have got to wise up (Myself included). Before posting something think about who it affects and if you think it's possibly going to upset someone - don't post. Further, if you see something sexist or otherwise offensive please flag it.

(As an aside in the majority of cases I think users who support of contribute sexist material intend to do so as a bad joke. Rab himself has taken part in such material in his professional work - I think he's being a bit quick to criticise others - some of his work in Tramadol Nights comes to mind.)

3.
A claim that the community isn't policed enough - hmmm well occasionally I agree and often I totally disagree. The effort that goes into moderation here on BGG is HUGE. There is so much more going on behind the scenes than just what you see in public. The Geek doesn't like to name and shame and so when possible this goes on in private.

I think the job that the Geek has set itself is close to impossible - allow users to freely communicate and express themselves with an understanding that certain material is unacceptable and politics, religion and sex based threads need to be in RSP. The amount of bloody time that moderating RSP takes up is ridiculous, they could easily close it down and have a zero tolerance to RSP threads on a board gaming site. Instead the site bends over backwards to ensure that the community is free to freely communicate - a commitment to giving people the right to building their own community and ideally civil society.

4.
So in conclusion I'm a fan of Rabs and BGG. 'Pah' on the ranking stuff and desire for more policing - A big thumb for the notion that 'we are all welcome to our opinion but should be careful in how we express it'.

You can live in my dream if I can live in yours. meeple
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Swan Bones
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Of course there are problems with statistical analysis. I have games that I know will be unpopular in one group and popular in another. BGG is the taste of the masses, who are more likely to favour eurogames as those are designed to be widely liked, tactile and less-frustrating than your average ameritrash-style game. Robert Florence shouldn't really have an argument with this, with such a vast rating system BGG is the public vote not the critic's choice.

The Space Hulk saga though is more valid in one way and less in another. Yes Games Workshop are an ungrateful cabal of share-holders feeding on the blood of the young, but the whole pitchfork wielding mob that came out to dispense justice was a bit ridiculous. However, who is it hurting? I am a huge fan of Space Hulk, yet I'm not that concerned about where it sits in the rankings. I don't really care if Games Workshop goes bust tomorrow as they don't make anything interesting anymore, however they are not interested in what BGG think or they wouldn't have done what they did. They just want young people to spend all of their pocket money on half an army that is then superseded by the next rules update.

However (and I think these may be Robert Florence's real points):

1. The threat of a mobalised mass of negative opinion can be upsetting and destructive for small publishers/designers, particularly those want to take risks in game design.

2. Trying to bring players to your favourite game might not help if they click onto Boardgamegeek and find that it's relatively low in the rankings.

3. Someone who enjoys finding uniqueness and imagination in games, regardless of their mass-appeal might be frustrated by a democratic rating system, particularly one that is used for political ends (such as the GW vote).

In all of these cases though it may be something to do with the fact that the general public are yet to see board games as an art form, like music, or cinema, and underneath the popular bits of gaming entertainment there are other buried games with a beautiful mechanic or an elegant mechanism lost in lo-fi components, badly written rules or without the marketing budget of a hugely successful company. Some "broken" games can be beautiful things. Some games are Picassos, Duchamps or Cézannes, and some are Jack Vettrianos. Any mass vote is naturally more likely to favour the latter.

I think that is his frustration. It might not be. The more people are involved in a forum the more the average takes over. Yet I still believe BGG to be a resource-filled and (generally) altruistic community.
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Michael Weber
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Regarding the rating system: In the latest Ludology podcast they estimated 1,000 (ONE THOUSAND!!!) new games in 2012. SO, I am quite with fellow gamers pointing me towards games that may me good. In other words I do not care about the numbers themselves, but I firmly think that the top 100 is just that - a collection of GOOD games, now they may NOT be what I personally consider good for my taste, but still are solid designs. To that matter the list of top rated games as such can of course be a good guide to beginners...

Regarding the sexist comments: He is absolutely right here - Busen Memo comments make me yawn, so I do not read them. Regarding the girls' pictures and their perception on the geek he is even more correct - pictures that got the "locked" tag are all but one picture of women

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/tag/locked

Personally I think that is childish, boring and sad, but then again that is the way the Internet works and I would not call out on BGG specifically here...
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Jacky Blue Note wrote:
...

The point where this really got to me was in the Board to Death TV review of City of Horror. Michaela (refered to by one commenter as the "beautiful lady game reviewer. I find her so attractive.") mentions that she is unhappy with her perception of sexist representations in the game before apologising for "becoming a feminist". If a female game reviewer feels the need to apologise for being mistaken for believing in the idea that men and women might be perceived as equal then there is a huge amount of work to do here.


YES.
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Patrick Reynolds
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Wow, that's some extreme tunnel vision on the part of Mr. Florence. Yes, some of his points are valid - there is sexism in some (but not nearly all) of the comments under pictures of pretty women on this site. But that's the Internet. Show me a website with similar content and open forums where this doesn't crop up. I'm not defending it, but you also have the choice not to look at those pictures - I come to BGG to learn about new games, read other peoples opinions, look at pictures of games, etc. Not to "people watch."

And sure, the top 100 rankings aren't perfect, but they're based on ratings from loads of gamers, and most of the games there deserve to be highly regarded.

Overall, this article feels like there's something else that happened to Mr. Florence that's driven him away from the site. His complaints are about content that's maybe 10% or less of what's available on BGG. Probably less.
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One point might also be that both Robert Florence and RPS are videogaming-related, which is an environment that currently struggles with its own sexism (hence the emergence of campaigns for the removal of booth babes at videogame press conventions). That could set the mood for some witch-hunting on the whole internet, and help explain how a rant about the general dislike for flawed games (the topic of the article) ended up on our fetish for Busen Memo trolling.

That said, I agree that "wife-friendly game" and similar expressions contain something inherently wrong about the actual willingness of considering women our equals boardgaming-wise. I'm not even sure I agree with the existence of the "women and boardgaming" subforum. The fact that the core of our hobby - games buyers - is mainly populated by adult males is known. The fact we're acknowledging this as a gender issue is probably a good thing. The fact we're creating a special place for women to discuss their relation to the hobby witnesses a disability to treat them as boardgamers rather than women, or more precisely "OMG a real woman let's put her with other ones so she doesn't feel alone and flee because we will scare her with our geeky hobby".
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Nicolas Weiss wrote:
The fact we're acknowledging this as a gender issue is probably a good thing. The fact we're creating a special place for women to discuss their relation to the hobby witnesses a disability to treat them as boardgamers rather than women, or more precisely "OMG a real woman let's put her with other ones so she doesn't feel alone and flee because we will scare her with our geeky hobby".


Note the 'we' here is gendered.

My understanding is the 'women and gaming forum' was conceptualised and created by some female gamers.

I don't want us to derail but I do share some of your concerns Nicolas and am on record of wanting it to be called the 'gender and gaming' forum. While I don't like it's name, it is a successful and positive space in the community that has created another nice place that users can interact and new users can come to and feel welcomed. Finding a way to further spread and strengthen this ethos throughout the site would be a great thing to do.
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monkeyhandz wrote:
Nicolas Weiss wrote:
The fact we're acknowledging this as a gender issue is probably a good thing. The fact we're creating a special place for women to discuss their relation to the hobby witnesses a disability to treat them as boardgamers rather than women, or more precisely "OMG a real woman let's put her with other ones so she doesn't feel alone and flee because we will scare her with our geeky hobby".


Note the 'we' here is gendered.

My understanding is the 'women and gaming forum' was conceptualised and created by some female gamers.


Indeed - the "Women and Gaming" forum was created by women for women. That being the case, I think that the OP and some others ought to consider not attempting to speak or feel for women, but instead, ask real women whom they know what they think of the situation. One could even say that a man, attempting to speak on behalf of women, is in fact being sexist himself, as though women are incapable of speaking for themselves.
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Nick Vance
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I spend a good amount of time on BGG and haven't run into sexist threads or other internet negatives much. I'm sure they exist on here somewhere but there is *so much* good content contributed by many good people that the good far outweighs the bad. Some cool things I've learned about or discovered from BGG:

*How to build a nice storage case for all my Dominion sets. http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/831335/storage-case-for-domi...
*Rule compilations, clarifications, and debates for several confusing games.
*Getting to talk directly to game developers to tell them things you like and don't like
*Some nice regular news updates about upcoming games, particularly for iOS
*Tracking my collections and plays
*Comparing and contrasting similar games or different editions

All without hitting sexism.

His complaints about the ranking system may have some points. But I discovered a lot of games, including Agricola, my current favorite, by just reading about and trying the games in the top tiers. Sure I could have read tons of reviews for all sorts of games, but I don't always have time for that; a top 100 list is a useful tool and shortcut.
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Hi Leo

It's a tricky one and is an emotive issue.

I recognise that it's possible that in exercising power in another's name, one can further marginalise and disempower those who you intended to protect support (Damn paternalistic language/outlook(?)). In this case though I don't think that's what is going on here:

Someone that says something is discriminatory need not be part of the discriminated group in order to be aware of discrimination nor to legitimately voice such an opinion. Speaking truth to power often requires others to speak out, not instead of but as well as the discriminated group.

I hotly dispute the dominance of binaries in social life. For me there is no significant or clear female/male or gay/straight divide to do so would be to present gender or sexuality as a monolithic whole - instead I would consider them to be in constant flux and while important labels, marginalizing when it comes to defining identity or character (this is not to say that there are not physiological or defining behaviours in there respective common definitions).

Admin Fail - derail - sorry all.
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The general trend to down-rate games involving luck.
I agree that BGG ratings do down-rate games with luck. More importantly, I'll ignore the ratings and look to my favorite reviewers, which I can find in the Review or Videos section of the game in question.

The Space Hulk Incident
The BGG rating system is supposedly based on what conditions you'd play the game. If GW's methods have convinced BGG users not to play Space Hulk, then I think they should rate it low. Mr. Florence seems to think the ratings are how "good" the game is in a universe where nothing else exists. I disagree. Example might be something like Civilization, which I currently have rated a 4, not because it's a terrible game, I actually like it. It's just that I don't have 8-12 hours to spend on a game like that. I doubt I'll ever play it again.

It is a SEXIST COMMUNITY
Yes, I think he's right. I'm surprised that not enough people mark Busen Memo on geeklists (or other sexist content) with a Hide/Offensive button. I've seen posts that cross other lines eventually become "hidden". It still blows me away that sexist items/comments are seen as funny, whereas racist comments are quickly flagged and hidden.

Banditos is flawed.
Haven't played it. Never heard of it. Based on Mr. Florence's description, I would say that I would opt for the other table. I'm fine with luck, theme, nice artwork, and a good story. But I hate spending my game time playing something that seems like it is one or more redesigns away from completion. Maybe someone will kickstart the resdesign!

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It's an interesting critique of BGG, but in the criticism of BGG and the Boardgames rankings, no links to the site or the top 100 games. Games Workshop, no links. In a criticism of childish Busen Memo antics and sexism, 3 links. One to the game and two promising pictures of women. To me, that furthers the very issue being complained about and devalues what could be an otherwise viable point of view.

Rankings guide new gamers to show what a large user base favours, but anyone buying without reading a review or looking to see if there are links to rules or discussions on gameplay etc. is surely risking disappointment. More experienced gamers probably see the rankings as a sideshow and get straight to what they came to the site for that time around. Not just me, surely?

Sexism has no place on this website, nor any other discriminatory rubbish. Asking what game my wife, husband whoever may like is NOT sexism. No-one cries out about questions regarding game suitability for the colourblind as discriminatory, for instance.
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I agree with him on the sexism thing being a problem, especially the Busen Memo joke, which is honestly up there with some of the other most overdone meme's on the internet. I don't think it is nearly as pervasive as he acts like it is, and I think this is generally a less sexist place than most other sites I have encountered on the internet.

The part about the site being only interested in dry Euros and luck filled fillers seems strange to me, given the state of the current Hotness list. It is really well balanced between Euros and thematic games. I have gone through and cut out those that I know are euros, as well as those that I am not sure of, but that sound like euros to me.

Firefly: The Game
Android: Netrunner
Chainmail
Eclipse
Mage Knight Board Game
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Clockwork Kingdom
Mice and Mystics
Descent: Journeys in the Dark (second edition)
Mage Knight: Resurrection
Zombicide
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
Star Wars: The Card Game
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
Gearworld: The Borderlands
Twilight Struggle
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Mage Wars
Arkham Horror
Lords of Waterdeep
Dominion
Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery
Android: Netrunner - Cyber Exodus
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Mansions of Madness: Call of the Wild
Axis & Allies: WWI 1914
Mage Knight Board Game: The Lost Legion
Runewars
Race for the Galaxy
Polis: Fight for the Hegemony
Arcane Legions
Borderlands
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)

That is a lot of theme right there.

Oh well, we all see what we want to see, and I will still enjoy his other work.
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